Kyrie Irving has lived up to his superstar rep in these early days wearing his new Nets uniform. But he has another rep, too.
An ESPN.com article Tuesday mentioned the $141 million point guard’s penchant for having mood swings at his previous stops in Cleveland and Boston, and it stated that Nets officials are concerned. A few issues were cited since he signed.
So the Nets were left to react to the report after practice at HSS Training Center. Their report on Irving’s behavior to date came back positive.
"That is completely false in strictly speaking of my observation and my experience with him so far,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “It's absolutely not true. I say I'm the moody one. I really am. I’m cranky and I have my ups and downs.
“So if there’s just natural human behavior where guys are up and down, that’s different. But from my perspective, I give Kyrie an A-plus on his consistency and his spirit. It’s been great . . . He’s given me great feedback.”
Irving wasn’t made available for comment.
However, DeAndre Jordan had a reaction.
“Kyrie's a bad guy; he's terrible; he's moody,” Jordan deadpanned. “I don't like to be around him. He's horrible in the locker room. He's a selfish player. I don't like his haircut. I wear his shoes only because they're comfortable and because he makes me. Is that good?”
But seriously . . .
“Everybody in the world goes through mood swings,” said Jordan, one of the Nets’ three marquee free-agent acquisitions along with Irving and Kevin Durant. “I’m not saying Kyrie goes through mood swings . . . I think Kyrie's a great guy. I don't think he does anything negative that I've seen that he's done. And he's a friend of mine, so if he was, I would tell him.”
Irving led the NBA in scoring heading into Tuesday’s play, averaging 37.7 points in the Nets’ 1-2 start, including 50 in his debut.
“I didn’t call 50; I called 40, though,” Spencer Dinwiddie said. “ . . . I also said dark-horse MVP candidate before the year.”
The ESPN story reported that Irving has a history of becoming noncommunicative at times with teammates, coaches and executives. It also stated that he refused to cooperate with the Nets’ performance team when it wanted to collect biometric information from him during a California minicamp, that he wouldn’t take off his hat at a photo session during the team’s preseason China trip, and that he had an instance of shutting people out during that trip.
But Dinwiddie called Irving “a great teammate so far.”
“I can’t speak to the past,” Dinwiddie said. “I wasn’t on those teams. Maybe he did [get moody], maybe didn’t. I don’t know. But no, he hasn’t done that here.”
“I’ve actually spoken to him and guarded him more than I’d like,” Dinwiddie added. “So if he wants to take a break, that’s cool. We can not talk for three hours if he’d like.”